We are currently two weeks away from RTX, I'll be in Austin two days be for that, and PAX will be rolling around two months later. I had an amazing time at both events last year, seeing my friends and being able to just sit and talk, face to face, no internet connection needed was an incredible experience, and I couldn't be more excited to do it again this year.
Last years event had some rough patches for everyone, but there were many things that happened to me that I can only describe as violations of my well being. Some were intentional, and malicious, most weren't, but I feel as though everything would be a lot better if I let you all know ahead of time what kind of behavior makes me uncomfortable, and how best to approach and interact with me.
1. DO NOT GRAB ME FROM BEHIND
That really scares me and makes me uncomfortable. Please don't hug me from behind, grip my shoulders from behind, or wrap your arm around me from behind. If you see me and I'm not facing you please just tap me on the shoulder, or call out to me. Sneaking up on me might sound fun to you but it's terrifying for me.
2. DO NOT MAKE '#_____LIVESMATTER' JOKES
I don't think people fully understand how much fear runs through me every time I cross the border, my family as well. There are safety lessons, articles about how to conduct yourself around police officers, tearful hugs goodbye that, for all we know, could be the last time we see each other. If you rolled your eyes or scoffed at anything I just wrote you are exactly the problem. You don't understand that I do live in genuine fear that I will be killed while doing something as innocuous as walking from one hotel to the other. If you can't understand and respect that, please don't talk to me, ever.
3. DO NOT POINT OUT THAT I'M BEING QUIET
I'm not sure if there's a universe in which saying "Hey, you're awfully quiet" has resulted in someone wanting to talk more. If I'm quiet it's because I'm nervous, or uncomfortable, or exhausted.
4. DO NOT FORCE ME INTO A HUG OR KISS ME WITHOUT MY PERMISSION
If you want to hug me hold your arms out, let me walk into it. Don't grab me and force me against you. Also, don't kiss me. Not on the lips, not the cheek, not on the forehead, not anywhere. If I wanted to kiss you, you would know.
5. IF YOU'RE NOT BLACK DON'T USE THE N WORD
I could not care less that your 'other black friends' don't mind you saying it. I don't care if you're a non-black POC. Don't say it, end of discussion.
These are really simple rules to follow, and I honestly don't think I'm asking for the moon here. In fact, I know I'm not. I need you to follow these rules if you want to see me, or spend any time with me. If you can't, then I don't want to see you, it's that simple.
To those of you who do take the time to read this, and follow these rules I look forward to seeing you.